What sets the tiny brunette apart from all the other children at this playground isn't his beauty; there are many small, soft limbed, well kempt children here. No, the tiny brunette's curls are unbrushed, there's dirt smeared across his pale cheek, the hem of his shorts are frayed. He's separated from everyone else, at a distance that suggests despite his age he is here alone. In his little hand is a magnifying glass. He's holding the plastic handle in a tight grip and you would think he was burning ants, but his face isn't twisted in cruelty, no, he's concentrating on some other clue in the dirt.
Hannibal comes closer; the boy doesn't notice. Only a foot away, Hannibal can see the paw prints the boy is studying so intently.
"Pardon me," Hannibal's gentle voice startles the boy, "but I think you can help me? I've lost my dog."
Stormy blue eyes turn to gaze up at Hannibal. The boy's lips press together in thought. "Is he a greyhound?"
"Pardon me?" Hannibal hates to repeat himself, but he's caught off guard.
"These are greyhound tracks." The boy looks back down and puts a finger in the center of a paw print. "They're small but far apart... Greyhound's have long legs and little feet." He looks back up at Hannibal. "Is your dog a greyhound?"
"No," Hannibal holds out his hand to help the boy to stand, "he's a sort of mix... a bit Labrador, a bit collie, a bit something with spots." The boy takes Hannibal's offered hand and Hannibal counts it as a step in the right direction.
"Oh," the boy stands and continues to hold Hannibal's hand for a moment, a blessed sign of innocence unmarred by a home life lacking in proper care, "like a Dalmatian?" He lets go of Hannibal and brushes dirt off of his knees. "Or like a spaniel, maybe?"
“A spaniel, I think. He is a bit shaggy.” Hannibal looks around, as if scanning the horizon for his shaggy, spotted, certainly not fictional dog. He looks back at the boy, who is looking around as well. Hannibal closes in on the boy, eradicating any personal space. It's a test of sorts.
Which the boy passes because he doesn't move away when he turns back to Hannibal and asks, “What's his name?”
“His name is Winston.” Hannibal puts his hand on the boy's shoulder. “Thank you for helping me look. He must be scared.” Hannibal smiles, as warm as he can. “My name is Hannibal. What's your name?”
“Will.” Will barely comes up to Hannibal's elbow. He looks frail and unloved. He's leaning into Hannibal's palm, where it sits heavy and hot next to Will's neck. “Where did you last see him? That's the best place to start looking.”
“I agree. I last saw him here, in the park. Perhaps we should ask your mother to help us?”
Will finally moves himself out of Hannibal's grasp. “My dad's at work.” He's just the right amount of dejected for Hannibal to have all the information he needs. No mother, neglectful father. Hannibal and Will have all the time in the world to play all of Hannibal's favorite games.
“That's good! We don't have to waste any time trying to find another helper. You and I can start looking for Winston right away, no?” Hannibal's hand returns to Will's body, gentle but firm just above the small of Will's back. Hannibal senses more than sees Will's little shiver. Hannibal pushes Will away from the playground and in the direction of the parking lot. “Let's go!” Hannibal is as cheery as can be and it cheers up Will, thankfully.
“Yeah, let's go!” Will races ahead just a bit and calls out: “Winston! Here, boy!”
Hannibal looks behind them, observing all the parents blatantly uninterested in Will's shouting. To them it must appear as though the father has finally come to pick up his son. Any close observation would destroy that theory- Hannibal's fine wool coat and Will's holey socks don't speak of familial connection. Hannibal let's out a long, clear whistle. Some children at the top of the slide look their way, but no one seems to care about their dog-searching noises.
“Wiiiiiinstoooon!” Will yells and then stops. He walks crouched over, holding up his looking glass, on the search for clues. Hannibal is utterly charmed by the child's Sherlockian attention to detail. This goes on for long minutes, with Will asking Hannibal what sort of paws Winston has. Big, Hannibal says. Will watches the ground and Hannibal watches Will's cute little rump sticking up like an invitation. Together they make it to the parking lot. “Oh,” Will says, disappointed that concrete won't yield any prints.
“I have an idea.” Hannibal waits till he has Will's full attention, those blue eyes pinned by Hannibal's red gaze, “Let's drive around the perimeter of the park and keep our eyes out for Winston. Remember, he's sort of black and white and red, with long and short fur, and big ears that stick up and fall down at the same time. Can you imagine that, Will?”
Will closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. He let's it out and opens his eyes slowly. “I can picture Winston perfectly.” He is absolutely sincere. It makes Hannibal consider keeping Will forever; his pretty, wide eyed face is enough for an afternoon of play, but his intelligence is a flavor Hannibal wants to savor for as long as possible. What can he teach him? Many, many sorts of things.
“Very, very good, Will. I deeply appreciate all your help.” Hannibal wants to lick the blush that spreads across Will's cheeks. “My car is this way.”
It isn't his car, exactly. His own car is too flashy for a suburban park in this income bracket. He acquired this car last night, at the same time he was procuring tonight's dinner. Dinner is an uppity paralegal from the firm that handles Hannibal's practice insurance. She was surprisingly practical when it came to automobiles. Will doesn't notice anything amiss about a twenty year old Toyota; he climbs in when Hannibal unlocks the door and buckles his seatbelt like a good boy. Hannibal settles himself into the driver's seat and starts the car, glad he sprayed his own cologne in the interior. The paralegal kept the car clean but it had an odor of fast food.
They circle the park twice. Will has a charming habit of biting his lower lip as he squints to see if Winston has appeared. The poor boy will need glasses when he's older, if he doesn't need them now. Hannibal asks Will if he sees the dog, but Will shakes his head. Will is still looking out the window with a focus and intensity that Hannibal admires. Time to turn that stunning attention onto better things, like Hannibal and his pleasure.
“Will, you're a very smart boy, I can tell,” Hannibal says as he turns away from the park, “so I assume no one has told you not to talk to strangers?”
“What do you mean?” Will's voice is very small, like his pert, little body. Will knows very well what Hannibal means, Hannibal can tell. “Where's Winston, really?”
“Don't fret,” Hannibal takes one hand off the wheel and puts it on Will's bare knee, giving it a reassuring squeeze. “Winston is going to be okay because Winston doesn't exist.”
Will is frozen, staring at Hannibal as if he suddenly had horns. Will is terribly, delightfully young, but Hannibal senses a wisdom beyond his years. He gives Will a moment to gather his thoughts as Hannibal steers the car towards an industrial part of town. “Are you...” Will says on a shaky breath, “are you kidnapping me?”
“Yes.” Hannibal smiles and flicks on the radio, ending the conversation with a waterfall of Chopin's soothing Nocturne in B Major. Will simply looks out the window and trembles in his seat. Truly a smart and intuitive child- to finally sense the danger and to not fight when he doesn't have a chance. Piano music fills the empty space where normally there would be tears.
Hannibal is having a truly lovely afternoon.
The radio bleeds Chopin into the aria "O zittre nicht, mein lieber Sohn" and Hannibal takes the magnifying glass from Will's desperate grasp and puts it in the glove-box for safekeeping.
At a stop sign sitting before railway tracks, Hannibal pulls the pocket square from his waistcoat and blindfolds his little detective. The boy hasn't said a word and though his eyes are wet, he hasn't wept yet. Will sniffles as he is blinded but he doesn't complain. Hannibal carefully untucks Will's dark curls from where they are trapped by cloth and admires the pretty picture Will makes- silk over his eyes and the seatbelt strapped across his narrow chest. Hannibal is hungry to begin.
But first he drives lazy circles, confusing Will's sense of direction. Finally the car stops in the shadow of the safe-house, an under-used cottage Hannibal keeps clean and ready for anything. Hannibal had considered going to the warehouse where this is usually done, where tonight's dinner met her end, but Will is special. With comfort and care (things Will has clearly been deprived of), Hannibal knows Will can bloom into something tasty.
Hannibal parks the car and unbuckles Will, who gropes for the door handle. Hannibal grabs the boy and pulls him out of the car and up into Hannibal's arms. Hannibal carries Will cradled in one arm, Will's head tucked into Hannibal's neck and Will's bottom tucked into the crook of Hannibal's elbow.
Into the neighborless cottage, down the dark steps into its windowless basement. Hannibal sets Will down gently, sitting him on the edge of the bed. His little feet dangle and Hannibal kneels before him, unties and removes each dirty shoe and sock with care. Will's hands tangle together in his lap. Hannibal's clever boy doesn't try to pull off the blindfold; he waits patiently, nervously, for Hannibal to make all the moves.
"This isn't your fault, Will." Hannibal kisses Will's knee and slides his hands up Will's soft thighs until his fingertips are under Will's shorts and his thumbs brush Will's twisting hands. "You are naive, sweet one, but not stupid. And all children are naive, so what chance did you have?"
Will's fingers untangle themselves and fan out until they rest lightly on the back of Hannibal's hands. A soft, tremulous voice in the dark: "Can I go home? I mean, I know... not yet. But later? Will I get to go home?"
A kiss to Will's knuckles. "My clever boy deserves an honest answer, but I want to know what you think, first."
Will draws his knees up to his chest, unconscious of his shorts riding up, exposing so much skin. "No?" His bare feet balance precariously on the edge of the bed.
"No?" Hannibal echoes. He wants to bite Will's toes. "We can negotiate, Will. Do you know what that means, negotiate?" Hannibal's hands are trapped between Will's thighs and his chest. It's warm.
"No." Will pulls his hands out of the cave made of his body and Hannibal's hands and wraps his arms around his shins. "What does it mean?"
"Hmm," Hannibal rubs Will's legs in slow, soothing strokes, "in this case, it means we discuss if I can give you something you want, like taking you home, and in exchange you do the things I want." Hannibal is entranced as Will chews his lip in thought. "And I want you to be brave."
"Brave..." Will's voice doesn't quaver, "because it'll hurt?"
Hannibal's smile is big and genuine. "Yes. But this we will negotiate as well. I want to begin." Hannibal pulls one hand away and lifts the cloth from the little boy's eyes; he's eager to see every emotion crossing Will's face. "Clever boy, if you want me to do something for you, what do you do when I say: take off all of your clothes and hand them to me?"
Will blinks. His eyelashes are clumped with wetness; his blue eyes shine preternaturally in the low light. He looks unhappy and delicious; curled up, slight, and ripe for ruination.
Hannibal waits. Hannibal stops smiling. Will hugs his legs tighter for a moment, squeezing Hannibal's hand, before he unfolds himself and slowly, with a reasonable, anxious tension, pulls his arms into his shirt and then wriggles out of it. He folds is clumsily and leaves it on his lap, taking a moment to consider the next step. Hannibal stands, looming over Will, and Will looks at Hannibal, unsure. Hannibal holds out his hand and Will hands him his ratty t-shirt. It's placed beside his sneakers, out of the way of the mess they are going to make. Hannibal puts out his hand again.
Will's only protest is his lower lip sticks out in a pout. Hannibal will certainly suck on that later. Will drops his eyes away from Hannibal to some distant spot on the carpet, and he pulls his shorts and undies down and off. In his childish shamelessness he hugs himself for warmth rather than cover his tiny, hairless genitals. Hannibal is smiling again, charmed by Will once more.
"Will," Hannibal says and snaps his fingers. Will's eyes shoot up, stopping somewhere at Hannibal's lapel. Hannibal says nothing more and begins to strip for his captive audience.
Piece by piece, Hannibal reveals himself to Will. Each article of clothing is folded lengthwise and laid flat beside Will’s meager belongings. Will’s eyes are dancing over Hannibal’s physique- the broad chest, sturdy legs, the thick cock; the coarse, dark blond body hair such a contrast to Will’s smooth form. Hannibal’s forty year advantage over Will is on display for this precious child- the strength, the power, the focused desire.
Naked, Hannibal surges forward and lifts tiny Will like a bride. He settles himself against the headboard, his little lover sitting on his thigh, Will’s little legs tucked up again, his little feet pushed underneath Hannibal’s other leg for warmth. Hannibal’s left arm holds Will still, a quick, affectionate squeeze; his left hand drifts from Will’s curls, down his face, pausing just a moment over Will’s eyes, to settle lightly around Will’s throat. Hannibal’s right hand returns to rubbing soothing patterns over Will’s legs. They sit like that, entwined, quiet, for a spell. Will’s nerves seem to subside, clearly the result of a fear of the generic unknown. If he understood even a fraction of what their nudity meant, Will would be terrified right now. But his breathing evens out and he goes loose limbed surrounded by Hannibal.
When Will rubs his cheek into Hannibal’s collarbone, Hannibal sees just how beautifully touch-starved Will is. Hannibal wants to indulge his clever boy; but it will be a lovely to behold side effect of Hannibal indulging himself first and foremost.
A nightstand sits in arm’s reach and Hannibal finds in it everything he needs. “Hold this please,” Hannibal says as he puts four condoms in Will’s left hand, “and this too, please,” as he puts a tube of lube in Will’s right hand. Reaching into the nightstand one last time, Hannibal pulls out a stoppered bottle, no larger than his thumb. Will is puzzling over the objects, trying to connect the dots. “These are for me,” Hannibal gestures to the condoms, “and the rest are for you.”
“For me?” Will is about to ask what they are, his mouth opens, inviting Hannibal in, but Hannibal cuts him off before he begins.
“These are gifts, clever boy. What do you say?”
Will ducks his head and answers shyly: “Thank you.”
Hannibal is appeased. Time to mold sweet Will into a perfect plaything. Hannibal’s hand leaves Will’s throat and slides down to caress his chest, his ribs, his flat, pink nipples, too firm to tickle. “I’m going to use your body to pleasure myself. It will hurt you because you are very small.” Hannibal’s finger sweep over Will’s belly, to his chest, back down; it seems to make Will a little tense but the child doesn’t try to move away. Maybe he’s afraid of being tickled? “Do you know what sex is?”
Will shakes his head slightly. No. But there is a crease between his eyebrows that says he might have some guesses, probably all incorrect. His voice is tremulous again. “Does it… does it have to hurt? I don’t want it to. Please.”
“Shh.” Wide palms span the breadth of baby soft thighs; move upward until fingers press at the baby fat just above Will’s tiny cock. Voice airy, touches gentle. “Can I make you grow any bigger? Make myself any smaller?”
Will tries to curl up again, but Hannibal's roaming hands prevent much movement. He's being soothed, memorized, and held in place. Hands tightening around the lube and condoms, Will mopes, “No.”
“I don’t want you to hurt either, sweet one, but you are so small. But your gifts will help you.” Hannibal holds up the little, brown bottle. “This doesn't make it hurt any less- it just helps you enjoy the pain. Is that something you want?”
Will's brow furrows- he's mulling over the difficult concept of enjoying pain. He's certainly too young to know that it's possible, but Hannibal is going to make it happen anyway. Will will be begging to be torn open. If the pain persists or overwhelms, Hannibal will lick it all better.
Hannibal can make this decision easier by making it a game. He makes sure Will is looking him in the eyes when he asks: “Do you know what chemistry is, Will?”
“It's...” Will thinks and timidly answers, “science... for big kids? For the high schoolers.” Of course his clever boy can read, has read ahead of boys his age. Hannibal swells with affection and kisses Will's forehead.
“Yes. You study substances like this- a chemical.” Hannibal shakes the bottle lightly. “It's called isobutyl nitrite.” Hannibal taps Will on the nose. “You smell it.”
Will rubs his nose with the back of the hand holding the condoms. He looks at Hannibal incredulously. “You don't have to drink it?”
“No, clever boy. And I will let you have a sniff if you can pronounce its name.”
“I sew... Say it one more time. Please.” Certainly brave, consumed by learning. Will looks eager to show off. Hannibal’s cock is growing. Will has yet to notice.
“Isobutyl nitrite.” Hannibal would never normally take this much time speaking to his quarry. He almost never lets them have comfort, chemical or otherwise.
Will's determination is very cute. He spits out the syllables in one steady stream. “Eye, sew, bee, you, tall, nigh, trait.”
“You're the smartest little boy I have ever met.” That's true. Will preens for about five seconds before his face falls, remembering what the game was for, so Hannibal graciously offers: "You should be very proud. Other little boys would have to be without a prize, but you," Hannibal ruffles Will's hair, "you are going to have fun."